Famous games writer Chris Avellone, whose credits include Planescape: Torment and Fallout: New Vegas, broke his silence on sexual misconduct allegations made against him in 2020. In a series of blog posts on Medium, the game developer also revealed that he recently filed a libel lawsuit in California court against some of his accusers.
“I have never violated consent with anyone, ever,” Avellone wrote in a long post published June 26. “I spent the last year trying to persuade myself these acts were done out of misguided self-righteousness,” he wrote in another post. “I tried to correct the record, allow voices to be heard, but I was wrong; these attacks were malicious, and they must be challenged.”
Last June, multiple women accused the veteran games writer of sexually inappropriate or predatory behavior, including deploying booze and his status to try and take advantage of younger women. One of the accusers, Karissa Barrows, told Kotaku at the time that Avellone pushed drinks on her at a convention. At the end of the night, she said, he tried to go back to her hotel room with her, where he tried to take things further until she finally refused. Avellone did not respond to a request for comment last year, and while some of his social media posts referenced the allegations, none of them directly addressed or refuted the claims.
In his posts a year later, Avellone claims that the interaction was consensual and calls Karissa’s comments and tweets about how events played out “falsehoods.”
“As a result of Barrows’ statements, Avellone has lost employment and continues to lose employment in an amount to be proved at trial,” Avellone’s lawsuit reads. Game studios Gato Salvaje and Techland, which Avellone was consulting for at the time, cut ties with the games writer last summer. “Avellone has also suffered shame, mortification, and hurt feelings as a result of Barrows’ libels.”
Avellone did not immediately respond to a new request for comment.
“I stand by my story and the stories of the other women who came forward,” Barrows told Kotaku in a statement. “We told the truth. I am not at liberty to speak further on the situation at this time for legal reasons.”
It’s unclear how successful Avellone’s lawsuit will be in court. Most of the claims covered in its initial filing appear to be differences of opinion. But sometimes, libel lawsuits don’t have to be successful in court to be effective. SLAPP lawsuits (strategic lawsuits against public participation) are often used to silence people simply by tying them up in court proceedings and legal fees.
According to Avellone, that’s not the case here. “Often, the legal system is used to silence others,” he writes. “I do not believe any good ever comes of this. I do not want to silence anyone—I want the opposite. I want Karissa’s and Kelly’s story to be not only heard, but elevated, and I want them to speak more about what happened.”
In his lawsuit, Avellone is seeking “punitive damages in an amount appropriate to punish or set an example of Barrows.”
Update - 3:28 p.m. ET, 6/28/21: Avellone reiterated in an email to Kotaku that he is not trying to silence anyone, writing “it’s to have more said on their allegations, which they have since refused to do, and I want everyone to know the truth.”